Bookmobile: when the library comes to you

By the time even smaller cities had public libraries, patrons still had to live in town to use them. The idea of taking library materials to smaller towns and rural areas took form only in the twentieth century. Depending on which website is correct, the first bookmobile service in the US started either in Chester County, South Carolina or Washington County, Maryland. Washington County’s effort (from 1905) is better documented, but Chester County’s claims to have started in 1904. The idea caught on and spread first to neighboring counties and eventually throughout most of the country. Today, some kind of … Continue reading

Using the library as an office

I hear a lot from and about people who take their laptops or tablets to places like Starbucks, Panera, or just a local place with wi-fi and hang out there. These are informal places that don’t seem to mind how long someone stays, so long as they spend some money. Meanwhile, the folks that hang out there often say how much work they get accomplished, including working online or interviewing people. What could be better? Consider the library. … Continue reading

The importance of summer reading programs at the library

School’s out, or soon will be. “No more classes! No more books! No more teachers’ dirty looks!” That “no more books” part is a problem, though–especially if it lasts all summer. Libraries pick up the slack. Children who don’t read over the summer return in the fall having lost some of their reading ability. That puts them behind, or farther behind, their reading classmates–as much as two years behind by the time they finish sixth grade. Some children are bookworms. They will read all summer simply for the joy of it. Others struggle with reading in school, and of course … Continue reading

Ebooks and libraries

How can a library add ebooks, something with no physical existence, to its collection? And why would it? I can answer the first question easily. Libraries, like everyone else, have to pay for ebooks. An ebook goes through the same process as any other library material. Someone decides to acquire it. The acquisitions department orders it from the publisher and pays for it. The cataloging department describes it and puts the description in the catalog. Once it’s in the catalog, the reference department can call patrons’ attention to it and the circulation department can check it out. Of course, no … Continue reading

What else can you do with the online library catalog?

I have written several posts about finding library materials in the catalog, for instance, Online library catalogs: using them despite their imperfections. In fact, the catalog is only one component of what’s called an Integrated Library System (ILS). The acquisitions and circulation databases are among its other components. By the way, I have avoided using library initialisms and acronyms in this blog, because it’s not aimed at the people most likely to understand them. Apparently at least one library shares them with its patrons. OPAC means Online Public Access Catalog. It’s part of the ILS. Now you know some libraryese. … Continue reading